Friday, 1 April 2016

Dundee, for my father: rememberings from around four years old

We walked, those times in my remembering, into
the town, a mile or so, a slow walk
for a young child tripping on sandalled feet,
stones going into the shoes;
and the dust in Princes Street blew into my eyes,
so a hankie was needed, and sometimes spit.
But then, the toun, the streets, and you would say
how the Seagait and the Murraygait cam aboot
and the Cowgate wi the coos coming intae the toun
frae Angus to merkat; then the city square,
Boots' corner and Monck's lodging, with the old toun,
the kirks, the steeple, Overgait, and scents of foods
and people, and smoke too, and gaun doun the hill tae
docks, the arch, with swing bridge and the walking
among salt breezes, with stories of the harbour.

And the Fifie, oh the Fifie! and the trip for a day
and the lifebelts, rings that so teased imagining;
going there and back, and the engine's sound,
beside that bridge of fear and exaltation,
with joy of the return, tired and expectant
of a bus ride home.

Or maybe into Tally Street's hotel,
'Imperial', they called it, friends who ran it;
by Barrack Street and through the ghoulful Howff
to where you, my Dad, worked - with a wondrous door,
and that lift that the small child marvelled at; then
by statues at the Albert Institute
and by the school that I would go to,
when I was bigger.

Trying to not sleep on the bus,
Stumbling up the street to home,
home, home, home,